Sunday, December 4, 2011

In The Streets of Kuching

The street markets of Kuching city have many a story to tell about its people, their celebrated arts and the way they live. While absorbing the tales that tumble over, don’t be surprised to find yourself picking up odd bits and pieces and coming away with bags full of Sarawakian treats.

The Sunday Market at Jalan Satok is the place to head if you are looking for bustling excitement. Known to be one of the most popular street markets in East Malaysia, it lays open countless surprises that delight and entertain visitors. Womenfolk of the Bidayuh tribe peddle their wares of exotic vegetables and forest produce of honey, ferns and mushrooms. Others offer colourful blooms in riots of pinks, fuchsias, oranges and whites, and pets such as puppies, quails and chicks. A host of other items that include clothes, household goods, local delicacies, toys and fresh sea food are available too. Look out for the coffee stalls where the beans of your choice will be freshly ground and packed in front of your very eyes.

This market is probably the best place to pick up one of Kuching’s signature souvenirs, the ‘Terubok Masin’ or salted American Shad and its prized roe. Used to shoppers wanting to take home huge amounts of fish, the vendors are well able to package the purchases to meet airline requirements. For immediate consumption though, pick up the charcoal-grilled fish.

Numerous other locally crafted souvenirs can be found at remarkably low prices including the very pretty Sarawak baitak. Featuring heavily the native tribal motifs, the designs are somewhat different from those found in other parts of Malaysia.

Right in the city centre is the very famous Main Bazaar with its mind-boggling fare of arts and crafts, ornaments, traditional medicines, textiles, local delicacies and spices. Many items exclusive to Borneo can be found in the shops here, hence its popularity with visitors. Parallel to the Main Bazaar is the textile district of India Street. The goods here are not only considered great bargains but much of them are brought in from neighbouring Indonesia, thus expanding the variety.

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